Russian Eggplant Caviar (Ikra)
1 purple eggplant (2 lb.)
1 cup minced onion (about 4 oz.)
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, finely chopped*
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp. freshly squeeze lemon juice
Pita or rye bread for serving
Roast eggplant whole in a preheated 425ºF. oven for about an hour, turning it over once or twice until it is soft and its skin is charred and blistered.
Cook onions in 4 Tbsp. olive oil over moderate heat until they are soft but not brown. Stir in green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Scrape contents of skillet into a mixing bowl.
Remove the skin from the baked eggplant with a small sharp knife, and then chop the eggplant pulp finely, almost to a puree. Add it to the mixing bowl and stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil in skillet over moderate heat and pour in the eggplant mixture.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then turn heat to low, cover the skillet and simmer for an hour. Remove cover and cook an additional 30 min., stirring from time to time, until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon. Stir in 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Chill. Spread this on good rye or pumpernickel bread and eat as an open-face sandwich